By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
Flames and smoke rose from a grill as hotdogs and hamburgers broiled, and friends shared memories of a dedicated officer who died in the line of duty.
Trooper Andrew David Fox, a native of Tazewell County, Va., was struck and killed Oct. 5, 2012, by a vehicle while he was directing traffic in Hanover County. He was 27 years old. A cookout hosted Thursday behind the Tazewell County Courthouse raised funds for his family.
Many members of Tazewell County’s law enforcement community knew Trooper Fox before he joined the Virginia State Police.
“I was actually very good friends with Andrew,” Major Harold Heatley of the Tazewell Sheriff’s Office said as courthouse employees arrived for lunch. “When he was an auxiliary officer with the Tazewell Police Department, he rode with me a number of times.”
Being a member of the Virginia State Police was an objective Fox had in mind when he was attending school.
“That had always been his goal, to be a state trooper,” Heatley recalled. “Even in high school, he said his goal was to be a state trooper. Ever since anyone can recall, that’s all he wanted to do.”
Detective Taylor Quillen of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, who attended high school and college with Fox, had recently attended a 5K run in Washington, D.C. for National Police Week. She was among the 3,000 people who ran to honor officers like Trooper Fox.
“He really liked to farm. In college, he worked on a farm in Draper in Pulaski County,” Quillen said. “He was just an awesome person who would do anything for anybody. If you didn’t know him, you knew him five minutes after talking to him. He was that kind of guy.”
On the back of Quillen’s T-shirt was a quote describing Fox.
“In all the world, a greater man was never known,” she said, adding, “That was Andrew.”
Courthouse personnel joined officers and other members of the public for lunch. Every person in the law enforcement community is somebody special, said Cynthia Miller, secretary to Judge Jack Hurley Jr.
“Losing one of them is like losing one of your family,” she said.
Debbie Ratliff had known Fox since he was a boy; in fact, he inspired her son, Trooper M.S. Ratliff, to join the state police, too.
“He was probably one of the most humble, caring, true country boys that I have every known,” Debbie Ratliff said. “He was one of a kind. He always went above and beyond what was expected of him. They always called him ‘The Long-Sleeve Trooper’ because he refused to wear short-sleeve shirts. I knew him from the time he was 5.”
The Tazewell Police Department, Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, the Virginia State Police and the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office contributed to the cookout. Proceeds will be used to benefit Fox’s family.
Last year, the annual cookout benefited Officer Deriek Crouse of Virginia Tech Police, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop on Dec. 8, 2011, Heatley said. Two members of the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Cameron Neil Justus and Deputy William E. “Billy” Stiltner, have also been honored with fundraisers. Deputies Justus and Stiltner were shot and killed in the line of duty on March 13, 2011.
Ecko Fire Protection, Hardee’s of Bluefield, Va., Wendy’s in Tazewell, Richlands and Claypool Hill, Ramey in Tazewell and Richlands, Food City, Sam’s Club, Grant’s Supermarket in Tazewell, and Food Lion were among the businesses that contributed to the fundraiser Thursday.